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Thread: Designing quilt patterns using Excel and Paint

  1. #1
    Super Member LucyInTheSky's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    I use Excel and Paint to design most of my quilt patterns (or the back of an envelope, lol), and someone suggested a post a tutorial on here for how to use them. So here it is! For this, I used Excel 2003. 2007 and 2010 work mostly the same, just things are in different spots. I have access to both, so let me know if you have any questions on where to find things. If you donít have Excel and donít want to pay for it, Open Office is a free software that is similar to Microsoft Office, and it has a spreadsheet program. For designing quilts, it works just as well.

    First off, open Excel. I resize the cells to squares. Left click between the A and 1. That highlights everything (pic 1). Then left click and hold on the line between the A and B (pic 2). Drag to resize to a square. By clicking between the A and 1 first, youíre adjusting the size on everything. Do the same thing between the 1 and 2. Now you have squares, yay!

    If Iím designing without a specific fabric in mind, I highlight the squares I want to be one color. I then click on the paint bucket in the top right and select the color I want. It turns them that color (pic 3). I usually have the squares representing 1Ē or 2Ē. Then I know exactly how many inches I need (donít forget your seam allowance). If you want to see each individual square, highlight the area and click on the border button and click the one that shows all lines filled in (pic 4). For my puzzle quilt, I wanted thicker lines to show the blocks. So I just use the highlight the block and click on the thicker line borders (pic 5).

    If I have a specific fabric in mind, first Iíll draw the skeleton diagram without any fabrics. Then I will get the picture from the website and copy it (right click Ė copy). I will then paste it into Excel and move it to its proper spot (pic 6).

    If I want to resize the image, I will open up Paint, paste the image into Paint. Then I crop it (much easier on a Windows 7 machine). I click the dashed rectangle and make a rectangle around what I want. I then click Ctrl+C to copy it. I can now paste my cropped image in whatever I want. (pic 7). In pic 7, you can sort of see the highlighted section. When I copy/paste it, I wonít get anything thatís not in the top section.

    To draw specific shapes, first add the Drawing Toolbar (youíll only have to do this once). Click on View -> Toolbars -> Drawing (pic 8). The drawing toolbar appears at the bottom (pic 9). You can then select a shape or draw a line by clicking different parts of the toolbar (pic 9 again).

    Once you add a shape, you can change its color by right clicking on the shape and clicking format autoshape (pic 10). Select a color you want (pic 11). Right below that is how to change the lines on the shape if you want them darker or dashed. I know Office 2007 and 2010 are much easier to use shapes in here. I donít know how to get specific fabric swatches in the non-rectangle shapes, just colors.

    The last few attachments are a few Excel patterns Iíve designed just to give you an idea (help yourself if you like the patterns). The ones that say .ods are the Open Office Spreadsheet program. Mine open fine in Excel. There are a few Wizard of Oz ones where I wanted to use specific fabrics. The puzzle quilt one was a general pattern.

    So thatís Excel in a nutshell. Let me know if you have specific questions. I absolutely love Excel and in college got my Excel certification so, at least on 2003, thereís not much I donít know how to do. I have access to 2007 and 2010, if you have questions on those.

    Highlighting the entire sheet
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    Resizing to be square
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    Changing the cell colors
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    Editing a picture in Paint, so it fits better into a pattern
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    Adding borders
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    Adding thick borders
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    Pasting fabric into a shape design
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    Adding the drawing toolbar
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    Adding shapes and/or lines
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    Changing the colors and line textures on a shape
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    Part 2 of changing the colors
    Name:  Attachment-132129.bmp
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  2. #2
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    oooohhhh...I can dream about quilts at work and play on excel during my lunch breaks! Thanks for the tip

  3. #3
    Super Member sawsan's Avatar
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    Jun 2009
    Blog Entries
    Thank u Lucy 4 this wonderful tutorial what a nice idea
    I have to read it carefully so I save it

  4. #4
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    home again, after 27 yrs!
    Blog Entries
    boy that's a lot of work. i do well to get the new version of Excel or Word to work. very interesting though.

  5. #5
    Super Member kathymarie's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Southeastern West Virginia, USA
    ...thank you soooooo much....I can't believe how quickly you responded...what a nice person you are.....thanks for sharing....

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    the end ....n. y.
    Blog Entries
    thank you i will try it. i have eq and never used it. i have lots of neat tools and never use them ....lol i guess it's just a quilting thing anything new i gotta have.

  7. #7
    Super Member helou's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    thank you very much!
    I saved and printed the instructions. I have to read them slowly and practice. I love learning new skills (even on the computer) loll

  8. #8
    Super Member Happy Tails's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Timberlea, Nova Scotia, Canada
    OMG I suffer from that too.....We need to be committed!!!!
    Quote Originally Posted by dotski
    thank you i will try it. i have eq and never used it. i have lots of neat tools and never use them ....lol i guess it's just a quilting thing anything new i gotta have.

  9. #9
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Blog Entries
    Thanks for the great tut. Never thought about using excel for making quilting patterns. Sure am glad we have such smart girls around here. thanks again

  10. #10
    Junior Member countryone77's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Texas, USA
    Blog Entries
    Quote Originally Posted by LucyInTheSky
    II donít know how to get specific fabric swatches in the non-rectangle shapes, just colors.
    I think that I found the answer to getting fabrics into the shapes (I happened upon it quite by accident):

    Using Fabrics in Shapes

    Microsoft OfficeMac 2011 - Excel
    1. Find a fabric online, select it and copy its image.
    2. In Excel, Paste Special -> Picture
    3. On SmartArt tab, click Shape and select any shape, for example the heart from Basic Shapes. Your fabric picture will change to the selected shape.
    4. To change the shape, repeat step 3.
    5. To change the fabric, right-mouse-button click on the fabric and select "Change Picture".

    Microsoft Office 2007 for Windows - Excel
    1. Find a fabric online, select it and copy its image.
    2. In Excel, Paste Special -> Bitmap
    3. When the bitmap is selected, Picture Tools shows on the Title bar and a Format tab is shown. Select a shape from Picture Shape on that Format tab.
    4. To change the shape, repeat step 3.
    5. To change the fabric, right-mouse-button click on the fabric and select "Change Picture".

    Open Office 3.2.1 on Mac - Calc
    1. Find a fabric online, select it and save its image to a location on your disk, at which you can find it later.
    2. In Calc, View->Toolbars->Drawing Object Properties (one time only).
    3. Select an object from the Drawing toolbar, at the bottom of the screen, and draw the object in your spreadsheet.
    4. From the Drawing Object Properties toolbar, at the top of the screen, and click the Color arrow to open its menu and select Bitmap.
    5. Click the Area bucket, which is now just left of Bitmap and do the following (this step can be skipped if you have already added your fabric picture).
    ⁃ Click Bitmaps tab
    ⁃ Click the ImportÖ button, find your fabric picture; select it and click Open; Name your fabric and click OK.
    ⁃ Click OK.
    6. Select your fabric from the menu that is immediately to the right of Bitmap on the Drawing Object Properties toolbar. At first it should just be a blank menu -- click the arrow to select your fabric.
    7. To add another fabric, repeat step 5.
    8. To change a fabric, repeat step 6.
    9. I did not see a way to change an object's shape, so I presume you would have to remove the unwanted shape and add a new object of the correct shape.

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